Thermal Interface Materials Based on Carbon Nanotube Arrays

Period of Performance: 08/10/2012 - 11/10/2014


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Composite Technology Development, Inc.
2600 Campus Drive Suite D
Lafayette, CO 80026
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: The Phase II SBIR program aims to fabricate, test and qualify carbon nanotube based thermal interface materials (TIMs) suitable for use on an Air Force spacecraft mission. Traditional TIMs consist of filled epoxies or rubbers that can be hazardous, time-consuming, and difficult to rework when required. The new class of carbon nanotube based TIMs being developed in the current SBIR program is highly compliant, reliable, reworkable and easy to handle. These attributes promise significant reduction of the assembly, integration, and test time (AI&T) for the electronics onboard of the spacecrafts. In the Phase I program, CTD has successfully demonstrating the feasibility of the new generation of TIMs that consists of CNT arrays grown on both sides of a thin metal substrate. Thermal conductance of the TIM as measured by CTD far exceeds the target of 575 W/m2K set forth at the beginning of the program. In the proposed Phase II program CTD, in collaboration with industry partners, will conduct outgassing, thermal cycling and system level thermal characterization testing of the TIMs. The goal is to transition the technology into scaled production and to provide Air Force with space qualified CNT based TIMs. BENEFIT: Carbon nanotube (CNT) based TIMs have high thermal conductance at very low contact pressure and do not degrade when mechanically deformed. Also, CNT array interfaces are dry and chemically stable from cryogenic to elevated temperatures, simplifying installation and preventing thermal pump-out. Assembly, integration, and test time (AI&T) for CNT TIMs can be significantly reduced in comparison to liquid or adhesive TIMs. In addition, CNT TIMs are not bonded between the surfaces and do not require sealing adhesive, therefore rework and replacement time for units is significantly reduced. Because of these advantages, CNT TIMs are likely to find commercial applications in spacecraft electronics, military aircraft electronics, RF systems for space as well as electronics for electrical power conversion, handling and conditioning.